By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer

Every industrial revolution has brought with it a wave of globalization, which in turn caused an increase in global trade and commerce, and heightening competition in the labor market.

As Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, put it, in an interview with the World Economic Forum, “The advantages of globalization are actually much like the advantages of technological improvement. They have very similar effects: they raise output in countries, raise productivity, create more jobs, raise wages, and lower prices of products in the world economy.”

Moreover, the uptick in international trade meant reduced prices of consumer goods, and an overall boost in productivity, more job creation, and higher wages in both advanced and developing economies. More exposure to the global markets also allows local enterprises to expand their horizons, but for many finding that particular avenue of opportunity is a challenge in of itself.

This is why the International Trade Center (ITC) in collaboration with QBO Innovation Hub and the Department of Trade and Industry created the ARISE Plus Philippines Young Entrepreneurs (YE) Boost Accelerator, under the ARISE Plus Philippines project.

Twelve local startups have been announced to join the 14-week virtual program, which aims to prepare Filipino youth-run enterprises for internationalization. The top 12 selected startups are: Alaga Health, Anthologie, Cerebro LMS, Diverzion Express, Empath, IOL Inc., Kippap Education, Metamorphosis Group, Panublix, PAYHIRAM, Petkluv, and RideRadar App.

“I’ve watched the growth of the startup ecosystem in the Philippines through the years, and there’s always been one hurdle: that’s how to get startups onto the global stage and get them access to markets outside the country. It’s a key piece of the puzzle,” Butch Meily, president of QBO Innovation Hub, said during the program’s launch.

“The ARISE Plus Ye! accelerator program has provided that critical bridge between our entrepreneurs and the ASEAN and EU regions. A startup can take advantage of these opportunities and see horizons and profits expand,” he added.

Maria Esperanza Alconcel, national project coordinator of ARISE Plus Philippines, said that the project aims to foster inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in the Philippines by improving the county’s trade performance and competitiveness.

“When we say strengthening trade performance and competitiveness, our main focus are the MSMEs which is very important here in the Philippines given that over 99% of our businesses are MSMEs and contribute to about 60% of jobs,” Ms. Alconcel said.

“The project provides a platform to bring together various stakeholders in the Philippines, the government, business support organizations, and the business sector to discuss, share insights and collaborate in helping MSMEs, and that includes women and young entrepreneurs’ ventures in overseas markets,” she explained.

Funded by the European Union and implemented by the ITC, the ARISE Plus YE! Boost Accelerator Program seeks to provide targeted support to address critical gaps to participation in global value chains that are hindering exports in priority products or industries, through linkages with EU industry, especially concerning inclusive innovation and the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Particularly, the program aims to equip youth-led Filipino startups with the relevant skills to boost their competitiveness, such as digital skills and building familiarity in the EU market.

The ARISE Plus YE! Boost Accelerator is ITC’s solution to enhance the capacities of existing BSOs in the Philippines; to offer support to youth-led businesses ready to internationalize; and to provide access to markets, networks and funding opportunities. The project builds upon an existing acceleration program by adding modules on several key entrepreneurship topics including internationalization, investment readiness, with a focus on digital skills and, in the context of the Philippines, Intellectual Property protection.

The YE! Boost Accelerator also leverages the network of local experts and stakeholders to support the programming and bring in a local perspective on key markets for international expansion, market trends, and the investment climate.

This solution builds on ITC’s expertise and experience in collaborating with accelerators in developing countries and the ‘Accelerate2030’ program, an initiative of the Impact Hub Network that aims at scaling up social entrepreneurs from developing countries.

“Given the potential for making it big in business, I believe the youth can do more as entrepreneurs,” A.D. Emma Asusano, Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprises Development assistant director at the Department of Trade and Industry, said.

“Going through entrepreneurship may mean passing through a very rough and winding road. Thus, it may not be an easy way to success, but the rewards of a successful entrepreneurship is definitely a thousand times greater than any challenges you will face along the way,” she stressed.